I watch parades on the sidelines, people walking with rainbow-painted faces, raising banners, drumlines and bagpipes, endless drone of some centuries-old dirge smothered by radio screaming pop songs, the age range of child holding candy to grandmother walking poodle and an American flag on her wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses required, whistles to let people by, cars waiting patiently for the throng to pass.
I watch protests going down that same road, people shouting with fists in the air, signs voicing disgust, slogans of hope, songs and hymns proclaiming centuries-old persecution and sadness, the age range of child holding water bottles for police officers with shields and gas masks to the battered man of 80 who has seen too much bigotry in his long life, cars waiting impatiently for this group of people to pass for good.
I watch marches at night, people wearing all black in mourning, nothing in the air, only one coffin closed, burnished wood and cleansed in snow paint, the hymns could be a capella, spirituals and low hums by bass or alto, prayers raised or spoken silently, the age range of child knowing reality too quickly to the elderly who have lived past those who have died much too soon.
feet slamming on concrete
once was brick formed by molds
each step has its own shape
each emotion a hue
each life forged with patience
infused color patterns
ready to create fire
from nothing for someone
heart will glow after chants
revive creation myths
shapes a narrative path
circular around lungs
breathe in and step to beats
keep on the patterned hum
of tires on brick, old school
old-fashioned world structures
we return to walking
we continue marching
Lime floats on full glass
crackles of carbonation
dance on the green pulp
Fiesta every Saturday
only when sun casts
temperatures at 80
The ice cubes are rafts
more special are those
resembling inner tubes
Ride them along river
lazy most days
except for refills
Soda gun roils
fizzes the surface
and soon returns to calm.
To know the difference between bonfires
constructed by people who feel cold,
abandoned and forgotten
stepped on with giant feet
ready to construct pyres that
produce voices that no language
Other than that, none.
My eyes rove
turn red and water
fill with a dew
purified with solution
return to orbs
glassy and smooth
but no real change
same as they always were.
A snake swerves along the ground
painting its skin with dust
the chalk of nature bleaching scales
every rustle through the dried grass
perks up ears and sets vermin aflight.
Each flicker of the tongue
a black flash — a tarry sheen
not unlike searing summer sun
at noon when all life itches to eat
some rare nourishment from gods.
The snake licks the earth to hear
not to sample the powder and the lime
but to find each patter and scuttle
until swerving stops and the arch to wait
before the lunge and the second-long meal.
There is something to be said for fake flowers
that stand and reach tall in my thin glass vase.
No water needed to keep death at bay
for another extra week / No withered
petals that release the fumes of decay
or discoloration of water or
leaves / Only bright and unnatural hues
and the texture of paper not fine silk.
Time, essence, vaporous in life and death,
allows many legged larvae to welcome
in spring, steps in hollow trunks and reseeds.
Moss spills across the leveled log in spots,
a paint coat over rivulets of harsh
winter filaments that chisel and etch.
Names and hearts bind, fuse all these cylinders
in some handgrip that flashes a mirage,
that each log’s world is a precious cargo.
Rolling hills as far as I can squint
to find that pencil-thin horizon,
the glint from sunlight and soon sunset
to give us tranquility fervently embracing
our march to save our one and only home, yes, every year
I paint myself green for one day,
with dripping leftovers covering those hills
a coat of fresh environmentalism because, beneath
this fairway brightness, we house polystyrene
popcorn, boxes, takeout containers, plastic bottles,
bent metal frames, aluminum cans, batteries,
toxic sludge acting as primer,
clouds hovering as forgotten baggage
decades of unimportant junk becoming (too) important.
open the door a crack and allow the gusts to pin
against the wall each moment that lets me
push ceilings and step down onto mud
to create shapes, bowls the ceramics student
each revolution a day or two, time cut
with machete or similar knife
the thing I wield with one hand only
and cut in half each pillar of virtue
paid for by weather fronts blasted by
casing arms punching through
every evening burning yellows and blues
the paintings on our final globe.